Peacebuilding Commission adopts Strategic Framework for Burundi

On 20 June 2007, the Peacebuilding Commission held a country specific meeting focusing on the adoption of a Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi. The document obtained approval following numerous discussions and presentations by delegates from the government of Burundi, experts in the area as well as members of the Organizational Committee of the PBC. The adoption of this document is notable for the PBC since it is the first document presented to the Committee since its inception.

The Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi was the first document presented before the Commission and was thus seen as setting precedence for future endeavors of the PBC. The process of adoption included numerous consultations in “informal” informal meetings, country specific meetings, meetings of the Organizational Committee, presentations on lessons learned and experts who urged support for the document, as well as accounts from the government of Burundi. Both the PBC and the government of Burundi were satisfied with the document adopted.

Prior to acceptance of the document on 20 June 2007, the PBC met several times to discuss concerns over the various aspects of the framework, including, a section on implementing a monitoring mechanism. In the initial drafts of the Strategic Framework there were indicators for a monitoring mechanism but they were removed before the approval of the final document. The sections removed will be discussed during the summer. A mechanism for monitoring is an important aspect of the Strategic Framework so it will take time to work out the details. It has been scheduled for review in fall 2007.

A fixed timeline for implementing the Strategic Framework was also discussed during preliminary meetings. Some felt there should be clear benchmarks for actions to be taken in order to monitor the progress of peacebuilding. There was even the suggestion, in the initial draft of the Framework, to establish commitment by the PBC to Burundi until 2010. No consensus could be established on this issue so it was removed from the final Framework although it has remained a popular talking point among delegates of the PBC.

Another problem with the drafts of the Strategic Framework related to clarifying the role the PBC would take in actions following acceptance of the document. Drafts included commitments from International Financial Institutions (IFIs), NGOs, regional actors and civil society. PBC Members discussed how to regulate the involvement of outside actors and giving out responsibility.

It was also debated whether the PBC should adopt the document or just endorse it, since the document was drafted by the government of Burundi and not by the Commission. Finally, the Commission decided to adopt the document on the grounds that it would carry more weight in terms of enforcement and would set a stronger precedence.

At the adoption of the document, on 20 June 2007, Burundi asked that international involvement continue with the help of the PBC and to see the fulfillment of financial commitments made at the donor roundtable in February 2007. The issue of donors is one that was also mentioned by several Member States. The European Union, which had been one of the larger groups to pledge, took the time to reinforce their commitment to working with the government and meeting their promise.

The Executive Representative of the Secretary General in Burundi, Mr. Youssef Mahmoud, who has been placed on special assignment to monitor actions in Burundi, stated that he did not want to see any additional strategic documents developed since the government does not have the capacity to work intensely on another strategy and that the government should not be subject to another document process. He was specifically addressing the proposal to accompany the Strategic Framework with a follow up document, an Integrated Peacebuilding Strategy, which had been proposed by the Peacebuilding Commission during discussions.

Along with the Minister of Good Governance from Burundi, Mr. Venant Kamana, who pledged Burundi’s commitment to peace and national ownership of the process of peacebuilding, there was also a representative from civil society present, from Forum pour le Renforcement de la Societe' Civile (FORSC), Mr. Emmanuel Nshimirimana who confirmed that civil society is also highly committed to the process of peacebuilding and actions presented in the Strategic Framework.

Also under consideration with the Framework were modalities for transmitting the document to other UN bodies. The Chairman of the PBC meetings on Burundi, the Representative from Norway, proposed in the early stages a cover letter to accompany the adopted Strategic Framework. This cover letter would include information regarding the history of Burundi and the PBC’s involvement as well as the plans they have adopted for actions to be taken in the future, including monitoring work from the donor round table, establishing a monitoring mechanism, and setting time tables for review. The cover letter was decided upon by the PBC and accompanied the Strategic Framework when it was sent to the Security Council, General Assembly and ECOSOC on 20 June 2007.

At the conclusion of the meeting, there were still strong calls for more actionable benchmarks, clear timetables and a monitoring mechanism. An emphasis on sustainable development was also placed with Member States wanting to see support from the international community to sustain the economic and social needs of Burundi. Work with civil society would also be a consideration the PBC would like to take into account for the future. Overall, it was agreed by those present that the adoption of the Strategic Framework is not only a step in the right direction for the Peacebuilding Commission, but also for the UN as a whole.

*This update is meant to be a summary of some of the main ideas discussed during the meetings and does not represent a complete and official account of all positions expressed by Member States.

Prepared by Ashley Dittus